Just over 11 years ago, I shared my first post on this blog. I could take advantage of the occasion to think about how old I was on that day (sigh), or how young my sons were (sob), but instead I wanted to take this chance to share in this weeklong post a few of the many reasons why I’ve kept AmericanStudier going all these long years. Leading up to another anniversary tribute post on the weekend!
1) It’s fun!: As I’ll indicate in a moment, over time this blog has become hugely helpful and important to my career on multiple levels. But those things took a while to really get going, and I never would have kept it going until then—nor, I hope and believe, kept at it overall for these 11 years and nearly 3400 posts—if I weren’t really enjoying it. And man, I really have! At first I tended to write especially about topics I already knew well and loved, as illustrated by that first post on my favorite American novel, The Marrow of Tradition. But over the years, I’d say the majority of the time I’ve written about topics that I would never have engaged (at least not in writing and not at length) if it weren’t for the very happy demands of a daily blog. American Studies and interdisciplinary approaches allow for that breadth and range of interests—but it’s been this blog which has really given me the space and occasion to think about them, and that’s been, simply, damn fun.
2) Productivity: It’s also, and I have to admit surprisingly, been really productive for my writing and publishing career overall. When I make the case for online writing to students and fellow scholars, as I do quite frequently in all sorts of settings, I like to highlight a simple and crucial stat: in my first 5 years at FSU, before I started blogging, I published one book, which was based on my dissertation; in the subsequent 11 years, since I started blogging, I’ve published five books. There are of course multiple factors in that shift, but I believe that blogging (and through it online writing more broadly) has been by far the most significant factor: because it’s helped me practice writing more quickly and with audience directly in mind; because it has refined and strengthened my style and voice; because it’s allowed me to write (or at least read my writing) day in and day out, even during my busy FSU semesters; and more. This blog isn’t just (by far) the longest thing I’ll ever write—it’s also the most influential on every other part of my writing and work.
3) Networking: An individual blog is, by nature, individual; I’ve done my best, through things like the Guest Posts and crowd-sourced posts I’ve paid tribute to in past anniversary posts, to add other voices into the mix more and more fully, but this blog will nonetheless always be fundamentally mine. Yet at the same time, it has connected me to so many other scholars, communities, conversations, opportunities—through those aforementioned posts, but also through readers and responses, through other writing connections the blog has helped create, through sharing the blog on social media, through all the ways that academic and scholarly networking can take place. We can’t control networking and connections, but we can (as I talk about with my English Studies Capstone class all the time) do everything we can to put ourselves out there in authentic and purposeful ways, and see what happens. This blog has been by far my most consistent way to do that, and has not coincidentally yielded the most meaningful results.
4) It’s fun!: As I say in class all the time: I love repetition, and I also love saying the same thing more than once. So I’ll say again: blogging is fun! As long as I’m still having fun here, I’ll still be here, doing my AmericanStudying thing and hoping to hear from y’all, for all the reasons mentioned above and so many more.
Anniversary tribute post this weekend,
PS. So again, and as ever, I’d love to hear from y’all about what has brought and kept you here, whether in comments or by email. Thanks!